UN peacekeepers depart a stable and grateful Liberia
The conclusion of the 15-year operation follows a landmark election that resulted in the country’s first transfer of power from one elected president to another in 70 years. The newly elected President, George Manneh Weah, spoke for many Liberians as he thanked the UN for helping to make that possible.
“In our darkest days, the UN stood with us,” he said in his inaugural address in January.
Mr. Weah, a former football star, won the presidency in a runoff election in December, succeeding Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who had served since 2006.
Speaking at an event last week in the capital, Monrovia, to mark the completion of the peacekeeping mission, known as UNMIL, he pledged that the good work of the UN will not be forgotten. “We will not fight again, we promise you,” he said.
In our darkest days, the UN stood with us — President Weah
Liberia, the first independent country in Africa, enjoyed nearly a century and a half of stability before falling into chaos, enduring two devastating civil wars between 1989 and 2003.
More than a quarter of a million Liberians were killed and nearly a third of the population was uprooted. By some reports, 80 per cent of Liberian women and girls suffered conflict-related sexual violence.
The Security Council established the peacekeeping mission for Liberia in October 2003, as violence lingered even after warring factions agreed to a cease-fire and a plan for political rebuilding.
As peacekeepers first arrived, “the entire country was in turmoil,” recalled Lt. Gen. Daniel Opande, the first commander of UN forces in Liberia, in a recent interview. “People were moving from place to place, looking for safety or for food.”
A newly secure environment enabled more than a million refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homes. The Government established its authority throughout the country and by now has successfully held three presidential elections. Click here to read the full article.